App store governance: implications, limitations, and regulatory responses

28 Pages Posted: 5 May 2022

See all articles by Josh Cowls

Josh Cowls

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Jessica Morley

University of Oxford - Bennett Institute of Applied Data Science

Luciano Floridi

Yale University - Digital Ethics Center; University of Bologna- Department of Legal Studies

Date Written: April 29, 2022

Abstract

Events such as the riot at the United States Capitol and tightening constraints on the Russian public sphere have highlighted the socio-political significance of app store governance. This is dominated by Apple and Google as operators of the two largest smartphone platforms. In this article, we analyse two case studies: the removals from app stores in 2021 of the fringe American social media app Parler and of the Russian opposition app Smart Voting. On the basis of this analysis, we identify three critical limitations for app store governance at present: Apple’s and Google’s dominance, the substantive opacity of their respective app store guidelines, and the procedural arbitrariness with which these guidelines are applied to specific cases. We then assess the potential efficacy of legislative proposals in the EU and US to intervene in this domain and conclude by offering some recommendations supporting more efficacious and socially responsible app store governance.

Keywords: Apple, apps, app stores, app store governance, digital governance, Google, platform governance, public sphere, stack governance

Suggested Citation

Cowls, Josh and Morley, Jessica and Floridi, Luciano, App store governance: implications, limitations, and regulatory responses (April 29, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4096933 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4096933

Josh Cowls (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Jessica Morley

University of Oxford - Bennett Institute of Applied Data Science ( email )

Luciano Floridi

Yale University - Digital Ethics Center ( email )

85 Trumbull Street
New Haven, CT CT 06511
United States
2034326473 (Phone)

University of Bologna- Department of Legal Studies ( email )

Via Zamboni 22
Bologna, Bo 40100
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/luciano.floridi/en

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